Tuesday, December 9, 2008

EDUARDO INFANTE: Virtual Socializing

1. YOUTUBE. People are entertaining one another, getting attention through horrible actions, and finding new found celebrity for their talents, all in a matter of minutes on the web. What you think about this medium for adults? What about for kids? Do the positives outweigh the negatives?

I really like YouTube. I love the fact that I can get access to a scene or two of an old-time favorite show, that brings me back to my childhood years, and I don’t have to pay for it. I like the fact that I can navigate through YouTube and am able to choose what I want to watch, unlike traditional TV broadcasting that, in some way, forces you to watch the programs they want you to watch. I like the freedom YouTube gives to individuals. I also like the possibility of posting whatever personal video or editing work that people have. I’m not that much of a poster in YouTube but I am more of a YouTube watcher. Even though I have a YouTube account, I’ve only posted two videos in more than two years. The average time I spend watching You Tube is not that much, either. But I can honestly say that I’ve been entertained with YouTube videos, while watching them with my friends, quite often.

All in all, I believe YouTube is reflecting what people’s wants and needs nowadays are. If this resource is criticized for the violence it shows, I honestly believe that there far worse things out there, some of them broadcasted through satellite TV, so I do believe the pros of having it outweigh the cons. Will I think the same way when my children start surfing the web all by themselves in a few years from now? I will probably not. But I’m also very aware that the Internet, YouTube included, is something I cannot deny it’s out there, with its implicated goods and evils.

2) MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn. These are great spaces for social, academic and professional networking. So are these websites good or bad for us? Do you have a story to share where your privacy was invaded before you had a chance to react? Does it matter that complete strangers can learn so much about you?

You will only find so much information on people in these networking sites as the individuals providing their information want. Perhaps, it’s a little risky for some people when they’re not aware of the magnitude of these sites, and on how easy it is to access to certain personal information. If something, I’d work more on providing enough info to potential MySpace, FaceBook, Linkedin, HiFive, or any other networking portal, so that potential users are totally aware on the implications of the use of these resources. In Mexico, my country, the police has found the presence of kidnapping mobs that use these type of pages in order to scramble and investigate potential “clients” and their families, based on the data, pictures, contact info, and so on that people are providing in a public manner. So yes, sometimes I’m a little fearful on posting a picture of my kids, or the place where I work, or my friends in Facebook.

Like Rick, I really don’t like MySpace, so I don’t use it. I have a Linkedin account, but hardly keep track on my contacts there. HiFive was a service that began getting popular in Mexico, but I stopped using it since it did not have an easy-to-use interface. So I guess I’m stucked in Facebook, which I may access once or twice a week. I kind of stopped adding applications and I mainly use it as a way to stay connected. I’ve found it very useful a tool to stay in touch with my students (current or former), as well as with some high school friends, or my foreign buddies, or those friends of mine living abroad.

3) Wikipedia. Does it scare you that “unqualified people” (whatever that means) are creating their own version of reality for others to follow, or do you think society is perfecting its information retention through open free market data sharing (much like the concept of a free market economy)?

Not really, it does not scare me to know that Wikipedia posters are “unqualified people”. The way life is these days, I find it appealing to know that there is a site in which I’ll find a quick answer to my questions. I pretty aware that basically anybody can edit the information provided in Wikipedia but I also appreciate that “somebody else” has already taken the time to write about and post something that I was in need to knowing about. Of course, if it’s an academic issue that I’m trying to solve, or something that requires more profound research, chances that I’ll stick with the information from Wikipedia only are very limited. But if I’m writing something for my blog, and I need some quick data on something, Wikipedia might as well be the perfect solution to my questions.

If the true problem we are trying to address here is misinformation, I don’t think that Wikipedia is doing much more damage misinforming society than what CNN, FOX, or Televisa (in Mexico) is doing. Honestly.

4) Blogging. When you blog, are you worried about piracy, or idea stealing? Or do you think it’s worth the risk to have the exposure and be able to share information freely and allow, say, scientists from around the world tackle the fight against some disease with real time online communication (you know, Scientific Journals on steroids!)?

The thing I’m the most worried about blogging is not piracy, or personal information sharing. What I’m worried the most is, in fact, my lack of writing. I’ve made it a personal commitment to post something on my blog at least every other day. Unfortunately, as you’ve witnessed it in this very blog, sometimes it becomes difficult not to find the time to actually write. You’ll see, in my ideal world, I’d love to spend an hour blogging (either reading posts from somebody else of writing posts of my own) with zero distractions around, and a total focus on that very activity. I’m starting to believe that I’m an idealist if I think this is going to happen in any given day in my regular life.

So I guess I have to work slightly more on becoming more organized in my personal time management, so that there’s always some room left to blog at the end of the day. What’s the reason why I blog? I guess I do it as a selfish act, through which I allow myself to give a second look at some things (some of them important, some of them not) that happen in my life. Will anyone else be interested, or have the time, to read what I post? I’m not sure. Perhaps not. But as soon as blogging continues to be stimulating to my soul, I’ll continue doing it, even if sometimes I cannot quite keep up to the deadlines this activity requires.

5) On the general state of the internet. Is it positive for our youth? In the middle of the 20th century, rock and roll was apparently poisoning the minds of our youth. In the 1980’s, television was frying our kids brains. Is the internet nothing more than this generation’s temptation that really isn’t as bad as people make it? Or, is it accelerating certain behaviors and/or awareness of the “real world” at too fast a rate for their level of maturity?

I think the Internet is a positive thing, as long as it does not become the main source of information on certain issues such as drugs, sex, or values for young children. As a parent, I’m very aware of the responsibility I have to teach my kids through example, and to be in continuous communication with them. I think sometimes we fail to realize how important this role is, and then blame the Internet for filling a hole in the lives of children and teenagers. But the hole was there, to begin with. If it ever showed up, it’s not because the Internet caused it, but because we stopped doing certain things that allowed it to exist, to begin with.

I cannot imagine my life without the Internet. As I’m spending a week of training, secluded in a hotel in which the access to Internet is rather limited, I’m getting the chills every time, like right now, that I can get connected, read my e-mails, keep track of my fantasy teams (it’s post-season time in the fantasy football world these days), and instant message for a few minutes, if something.

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